Sunday, June 26, 2022

Father-son duo salvage wrecked boat for ‘Floating School Bus’ mission

A dilapidated boat that was taking up too much space in the backyard takes a father-son duo to the Sunshine Coast on a journey to convert the ship into a “floating school bus”.

The boat sat in the back of his Yandina workshop for years, “growing plants and taking water”.

But owner Dean Frith and his son Beau said sending it to a landfill was not an option.

The boat was full of weeds and was falling.,Supplied by: Beau Frith,

The pair, who were originally boat builders, initially considered either dismantling it and disposing of it or converting it into a working boat and selling it.

Then Dean had another idea.

,[Dad] It was like, ‘Hey, listen, we really believe in recycling and trying to do everything we can to repurpose something…'” Beau said.

A close-up of the inside of a small boat with the floor all muddy and broken.
The pair have decided to reuse the dilapidated boat instead of sending it to a landfill.,Supplied by: Beau Frith,

Floating School Bus Project

Beau said the boat would be used to pick up schoolchildren from nearby islands and take them to a boarding school on the island of Aore.

But the ongoing work – called the Floating School Bus Project – will also have benefits for the wider community.

This would provide greater access to the creek system and travel to other remote areas.

“fact [is] So that they can take volunteers from the main island to the school as well as get building materials and other things to the island.”

A man wearing a gray T-shirt, black pants, leans inside a small boat using an electric sander, wearing green headphones.
It will take the pair more than two years to complete the project. ,Supplied by: Beau Frith,

He said the school’s current boat was slower, more suited for transporting large items and was “in one state”.

“It definitely needs a little bit of work to be able to get to the point where it’s back to sea,” Beau said.

Vanuatu ‘gets in your blood’

A young bearded man and an old, bald man, long gray beard, stand in front of a small boat with their hands around each other, smiling.
Beau and Dean Frith will donate a boat to a community in Vanuatu.,Supplied by: Beau Frith,

Dean said he volunteered at a boarding school four years ago with another Sunshine Coast group that regularly visits Vanuatu.

He hasn’t returned since, but said that the place and the people hold a special place in his heart.

“Once you go there, it’s in your blood. People are so cute. They’re extremely shy people,” Dean said.

Man drives tractor while others watch behind him in ditch
Mr Frith helped the resident when he was in Vanuatu in 2018 and is looking forward to returning.,Supplied by: Dean Frith,

The merchant said that sharing those skills with the island community had a huge impact.

“You can show them how to do concrete, or screw in a roof or build a boat — you show them, and they learn so fast, it changes their lives,” he said.

ship by boat

Beau said that the boat – which he likened to a “Ut” on the water – would be loaded into a shipping container once completed.

But it won’t be the only item that shipped.

“A big part of what we love to do [is] Try and give back as much as we can,” Beau said.

A close-up picture of the inside of a small boat being repaired.
Mr Frith says there will be room in the shipping container for other supplies, including clothing.,Supplied by: Beau Frith,

He said construction material, clothing or anything else of use would be loaded so that the container was not half-empty.

But he said the finished product may still be a year away.

A young bearded man in gray T-shirt, stained black jeans, looks at the hull of the boat next to the bald, bearded man.
The pair have been slowly restoring the boat for the past 18 months.,Supplied by: Beau Frith,

“We’re just getting away with it by using extra materials and things we have available, but winter is always a great time for us because it’s our slowest period.”

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